A woman from Milton Keynes has been shortlisted for a national award recognising the achievements of pioneering women in the UK.
Jan Flawn, a registered nurse and mother of two who set up PJ Care in 2000, is shortlisted for the 2013 ‘First Women of Business Services’ award, run by Real Business magazine and the CBI, the UK’s business lobbying organisation.
Over the last 13 years, Jan has led PJ Care’s growth from the development of its first service, Bluebirds, a neurological care centre in Shenley Lodge, Milton Keynes, to include Mallard House Neurological Care Centre on Dunthorne Way, also in Milton Keynes, and the £12m Eagle Wood Neurological Care Centre in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.
PJ Care now employs 450 staff and cares for 180 residents. The family-run business has won a string of awards, and was listed in the 2009 Sunday Times Fast Track 100 companies in the UK.
In 2008, Jan, a former senior manager with the Department of Health, won the National Care Awards Independent Care Operator award, part of the Great British Care Awards.
In letters of recommendation for the First Women award, referees praised Jan Flawn, who left school aged 15 with no qualifications, for her “passion” “motivation to succeed”, “commitment towards patient care” and ethical business approach.
She said: “It is such an honour to have been selected for the First Women Awards shortlist.
“It’s a wonderful reflection of the impact PJ Care has made in neurological care and treatment, and the quality of service our staff provide.
“A few battles have had to be won to have got this far. Firstly, it’s not always been easy being a woman in what, at a management level, is a male-dominated health sector.
“Secondly, back in 2000 it was difficult to secure financial support from banks who seemed to believe that a nurse – which is what I was then seen as – could not possibly present them with a viable business proposition.
“But I had immense belief in my vision of what PJ Care could provide for residents, so I persevered.”
The idea to launch Bluebirds arose after Jan Flawn witnessed young people with neurological conditions having to live in inappropriate care homes for the elderly.
Jan added: “I see myself as a passionate clinician, and I felt younger people deserved a better quality to the end of their life and needed more dignity and respect. That was what drove me to set up Bluebirds and PJ Care.”
However, Jan found it difficult to secure start-up funding and was turned down by all the major banks.
She eventually secured funding from Unity Trust Bank, and Bluebirds was launched in 2000.
“Thirteen years on, the banks are now chasing us, which I guess in these times is an unusual position to be in!” she joked.
“Exciting times also lay ahead, as we are looking to expand PJ Care through the development of three further care centres in Manchester, Bristol and Croydon.”
Katja Hall, chief policy director of the CBI, said: “Although the number of women reaching senior positions in companies has been increasing, business leaders must maintain their focus on improving recruitment, mentoring and succession planning. Celebrating the success of inspirational women is essential to help drive this, so the CBI is proud to support the First Women Awards.”